Drive for a Living: 9 Jobs That Put You Behind the Wheel
I used to chauffeur an attorney. I was paid a set fee for the day, which lasted from four to eight hours, and meals were included. While I drove, the lawyer could review case files and dictate letters for later transcription. Since his hourly rate exceeded my entire day's pay, it made sense for him to have a driver on any multi-hour trip. It was only an occasional gig, but it was nice to get paid to drive.
One of the most common driving jobs is operating a truck; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the number of tractor-trailer truck drivers in the U.S. at about 1.6 million. And if you've ever thought about driving a truck for a living, now is the time to get started. A growing shortage of truck drivers means many companies are now paying signing bonuses as well as covering drivers’ licensing fees. There are likely about 35,000 open jobs now, and that shortfall may grow to 240,000 in the coming years, reports Reuters.
On the other hand, maybe you love driving but don't want the hassle of handling a big rig. In that case, here are some of the many ways you can get paid to drive.
1. Start a Pet Taxi Service
People without a car need to get their pets to the vet somehow. And even if an owner has a car, work may get in the way. That's why companies like Pet Taxi New York can charge $90 to $190 for a dog or cat’s round trip to the vet.
Rates are lower in other cities, but if you like driving and love animals you might make a decent living with a pet taxi service.
2. Drive a School Bus
If you like the idea of driving a bus but still want significant amount of time off, being a school bus driver might be the job for you. You’ll work only when school is in session, and typically part-time. The BLS says the median annual wage of school bus drivers is $28,330.
You’d better be good with kids to have this job -- friends who work as bus drivers tell me they will test your patience. Some drivers also complain about the broken-up schedule that eats up their days; you'll typically work early mornings and then, after several hours off, work a few hours in the afternoon.
3. Be a Shuttle Driver
Shuttle drivers carry people back and forth from set locations. For example, depending on your employer you might drive a route between the following destinations:
- Airports and car rental lots
- Hotels and airports
- Hotels and tourist attractions
- Parking lots and front gates of amusement parks
- Various locations in a resort
Many shuttles are just over-sized vans, but some are actually full-sized busses. Others are small electric vehicles, like the ones I used as tram driver for a retirement community.
One drawback to these kinds of jobs is the repetitious nature of going back and forth on the same route all day. On the other hand, that probably makes for a more predictable and safe job.
4. Be a Chauffeur
The BLS lumps chauffeurs with taxi drivers and says the median annual wage is just $22,840, but it seems likely those figures do not include tips -- meaning your earnings could be higher. Indeed.com shows an average wage for chauffeurs of $28,000 based on current job postings, which presumably does not include tips, if there are any.
5. Be a Taxi Driver
Taxi drivers make more in big cities, but when I applied for the job and did a ride-along in a smaller town, I learned that where business is slower, you at least get the benefit of being able to nap for hours at a time.
Once again, the BLS wage data showing a median of $22,840 annually may understate true income, since drivers may not report all tips.
An interesting niche we previously covered is being a taxi driver for the Amish.
6. Deliver Pizza
This is another driving job where the official statistics probably understate the true income, since employees may underreport their tips. Friends who deliver pizza tell me they make about $14 per hour with tips. To boost your hourly rate, make this a second job and work only weekend evenings.
7. Drive a City Bus
How much can you make driving a city bus full time? The BLS says the median annual wage for intercity bus drivers is $38,750, and about 25% make $48,810 or more.
The best jobs tend to be in large cities that have bus driver unions. One bus driver made $159,258 one year due to overtime, reported The Wisconsin State Journal.
8. Deliver Newspapers
There are two types of newspaper delivery drivers. Some deliver to individual homes, and others run a route filling coin-operated boxes and dropping off bundles of papers for carriers who deliver on foot or by bicycle.
Pay varies quite a bit. You'll usually be "hired" as an independent contractor with no benefits, and be paid a set rate for a route or per paper. A search of "newspaper delivery" on Indeed.com turns up over 1,000 jobs, and the first listing I see claims you can make $850 to $1,200 per month with a route that takes a few hours each day.
9. Tow Truck Driver
As a tow truck driver, your earnings depend partly on whether you're an employee or you own the business. In the latter case, your income depends not just on your driving ability, but also on how well you market your services.
In addition to hauling cars with mechanical problems and those in accidents, you could also become a repossession agent.
Other Driving Jobs
You can find driving jobs on any of the usual job-seeker websites, including these ones:
Search using terms like "driver," "driving," "delivery," "route driver" and "chauffeur." Common results include jobs delivering propane, driving a bus and various route positions, delivering everything from bread to flowers.
If you keep looking, you'll see less-common and more-interesting driving jobs as well. Here are some of jobs that showed up on a recent search of the biggest job-seeker websites:
- Home food delivery driver
- Bank courier
- Vending machine servicer
- Furniture delivery driver
- Government chauffeur (in Alaska)
- Car delivery driver (for a dealership)
Finally, although it is not a regular job, you can get paid to drive your own car by signing up with ridesharing services.
Your Turn: Have you ever had a job where you were paid to drive? Tell us about it.
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. Of the more than 100 ways he has personally made money, writing is his favorite (so far).